10 Hiking Essentials: Must-Haves For Your Next Hike

Rayward Apparel

Hiking is one of the best ways to spend time outdoors. Whether you’re pushing your limits on a strenuous hike, or just taking a leisurely stroll to appreciate nature, here are ten hiking essentials that you should always have. No matter the length or difficulty of your next hike, go prepared with these 10 hiking must-haves!

Here's the quick list of our 10 hiking essentials, followed below by more details for each:

  1. Hooded UPF Shirt
  2. Neck Gaiter
  3. Breathable Socks
  4. UV-Protective Hat
  5. UV Sunglasses
  6. Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
  7. Refillable Water Bottle
  8. Lightweight Snacks
  9. Navigation
  10. Emergency Pack

Hooded UPF Shirt

Sun protection is critical for every outdoor activity, and only more so if you are planning to be outside for more than an hour. For lightweight, breathable comfort that protects as well as it performs, consider a well-balanced UV-protective hoodie. The Sun Bound UPF 50+ Bamboo Hooded Shirt from Rayward Apparel is well-suited for the outdoors, easy to layer and provides the highest rated sun protection for hiking with a UPF 50+ rating.

Hiking UPF Sun Hoodie

Neck Gaiter

One of the most versatile pieces of apparel, a neck gaiter should be packed for every hike, regardless of length. A well-designed neck gaiter, such as Rayward Apparel’s Del Mar UPF 50+ Gaiter, is versatile, lightweight and protects against sun damage. You can wear neck gaiters more than a dozen ways, which is why they are often referred to as tube headwear or multi-functional headwear. Whether worn as a neckerchief, beanie, headband, full face shield or simply around your wrist, just in case, you’ll never regret bringing a lightweight UPF 50+ neck gaiter.

Breathable Socks

Never underestimate the importance of a good pair of socks, especially before participating in any activity involving significant time spent on your feet. You’d be wise to consider wool or bamboo blends for their insulation, breathability and odor-resistance. Plus, well-made wool socks are unbeatable in the departments of comfort and durability. Wool also dries very quickly, which is something every hiker appreciates when our shoes or socks get wet or sweaty.

Wool hiking socks

UV-Protective Hat

A quality sun hat is a must for any hike. Although you may not notice the visible signs of sun damage, your skin and scalp are very susceptible to UV damage. Our top recommendation for UV-protective headwear is Rayward Apparel’s Sun Ops UPF 50+ Bucket Hat. The 360-degree brim offers more protection than a baseball hat, and the lightweight material will keep your head cool. Additionally, this bucket hat is lightweight, adjustable and easy to pack—important for all hiking essentials.

UV Sunglasses

Just as you’d protect your skin from the sun, you must also protect your eyes. This is especially important when hiking around terrain that reflects UV light, such as hiking near snow or water. We recommend a pair with lightweight frames that fit closely to your face in order to minimize the amount of UV light directed around your eyewear. Bonus points if they float, but you definitely want a snug fitting pair that will stay secure when you run and jump (or slip).

Hiking Sunglasses with UV Protection

Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

You might imagine wild animals as your scariest threat, but you’re most in danger from something invisible—the sun’s UV rays. Ultraviolet light attacks your skin through both clear and cloudy skies, and is even more dangerous at higher altitudes. Therefore, don’t take any chances with your skin’s safety, and cover up in broad spectrum sunscreen. Additionally, since you need to reapply sunscreen at least every two hours, make sure you pack enough to last for the duration of your time outdoors. When it comes to protecting the only skin you have, better safe than sorry!

Refillable Water Bottle

Never start a hike without making sure everyone has more than enough water. Water accessibility, weather, altitude and hiking duration, as well as your health, will impact exactly how much water you need. We suggest consulting the Mayo Clinic for detailed information regarding daily hydration, but plan to drink 20-32 ounces of water every 1-2 hours. A stainless steel or BPA-free bottle is our top recommendation, but we also love the convenience of hydration packs. For remote hikes or more extreme weather, you’ll need much more water, and you may even consider a water purification system or purifying tablets.

Essential hiking water bottle

Lightweight Snacks

Hiking is not only healthier, but also more enjoyable when you have some tasty treats to keep you company. Trail mix is tried and true, as are granola and protein bars. Whatever your preference, plan to consume about 200 calories per hour, and pack accordingly. Also, depending on who you’re hiking with, you may need to pack additional snacks to fend off the grubby hands of your fellow hikers who forget to bring their own trail snacks. 

It is essential that you have some means of navigation for every hike. This will vary based on your specific hiking plans, but may include everything from a map or compass to a handheld GPS device or any mobile phone with a reliable signal. The more adventurous your hike, or perhaps the less marked the trail, the more likely you’ll need additional navigation tools. For most hikes, a working mobile phone and an updated trail map will suffice. However, you should always make sure someone knows when and where you’re hiking, in case of emergencies.

Essential hiking navigation

Emergency Pack

Ok, this one is a bit of a catch-all, but some level of first-aid and/or outdoor survival pack is essential for every hike. Items to consider include a standard first-aid kit, whistle, knife, headlamp, blanket, shelter and source of fire. The more extreme your hike, the more you need to pack for your safety. However you pack it, make sure you have it handy and that you know where everything is located. Of course, for a less-remote or more heavily-trafficked hike, you might be fine with a smaller first-aid kit or only select emergency hiking essentials.

Next time you hike, go prepared with these ten hiking essentials. Not only will you get more enjoyment out of your hike, but you’ll hike safer with some variation of these ten must-haves carried with you. Of course, depending on the weather and remoteness of your hiking region, you may need to build upon this list with additional hiking and survival equipment, but this is an excellent starting point for any type of hike.

For all of your hiking sun protection needs, consider Rayward Apparel. All of the clothing and accessories designed by Rayward Apparel are rated UPF 30 or better for maximum sun protection. Our philosophy is simple: the world revolves around the sun, but your life shouldn’t. #StayRayward with Rayward Apparel’s UPF hiking apparel.

Source: Mayo Clinic